Spoiler alert: the No. 1 country in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 is . . . Chile!
We’re celebrating this slender slice of South America, from its ice-shrouded lower tip to the Atacama Desert – the world’s driest nonpolar place – in the distant north. The nation’s wildness courses throughout its 2,653-mile length, but read our Best in Travel ( p. 38) and Great Escape ( p. 85) features to learn why it’s becoming more accessible than ever before.
Chile’s character lies encoded, in a sense, within the DNA of the magazine you’re reading. Nine years ago I was trusted with launching Lonely Planet’s international network of magazines, now 12 strong and published in countries as diverse as India and the U.S., China and the U.K. Lonely Planet was already the world’s biggest guidebook publisher, famous for telling it like it is about the destinations its readers had chosen to travel to. My task was to inspire more readers to travel in the first place, to stretch their horizons and feed their passion for travel through our pages. In mapping out the magazine’s approach, I was deeply influenced by a book called In Patagonia.
Written by author Bruce Chatwin, this brief 260-page travel book has 97 quick-fire chapters, in theory following in the footsteps of past adventurers – among them Butch Cassidy and Charles Darwin – to this southernmost region of Chile and Argentina. In practice, it was an opportunity to give local people met along the way a chance to describe the eerie, bewitching land they’ve made home. Chatwin said traveling through Patagonia was “the most jaw-dropping experience because everywhere you’d turn up, there, sure enough, was this somewhat eccentric personality who had this fantastic story. At every place I came to it wasn’t a question of hunting for the story, it was a question of the story coming at you.”
I can’t tell you how much pleasure it gives me to cover Chile – and especially Patagonia – in our Best in Travel issue, and to continue to follow the tradition of showcasing the views of the local people who always keep
“the story coming at you.”